Level of Abstinence

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 2000:

There are two ways to present veganism. One is by implying that a vegan must seek out and avoid all traces of animal products.

The second way is to present veganism by saying that vegans do not have to put pressure on themselves to avoid all byproducts.

Our conversations used to go somewhat like this:

Potential Vegan (PV): Oh, so you’re a vegan. I know some – one else who is vegan. You know, I really think it’s terrible how they treat the animals, but I could never do it.

Vegan: Really, why is that?

PV: Because you have to avoid everything. Animal products are in everything, aren’t they?

Vegan : They are in a lot of things. But you figure out what you can and can’t eat and then it becomes easier.

PV: It just takes too much discipline for me.

Vegan : I could give you a list of the names of all the different animal ingredients. There’s less than 1,000 of them! And I can give you a list of 500 companies and whether they test on animals …Hey, where are you going?

Now our conversations are more like this:

PV : Oh, so you’re a vegan. I know someone else who is vegan. I really think it’s terrible how they treat the animals, but I could never do it.

Vegan: Really, why is that?

PV: Because you have to avoid everything. Animal products are in everything, aren’t they?

Vegan: You don’t have to avoid everything, just obvious animal products. Some vegans avoid all they can, but to withdraw from the major support of animal suffering and consider yourself vegan, you don’t have to worry about miniscule amounts of animal products. They’ll fade away as the meat, dairy, and egg industries fade.

Sometimes a potential vegan will say, “I could never give up ice cream (or cheese, etc.).” Some vegans are now replying, “Then give up everything but ice cream.” This will often surprise potential vegans and make them realize that veganism is about doing what you can to stop causing suffering, not about mak – ing yourself pure.

––Excerpted from Tips for Spreading Veganism,

Vegan Outreach

211 Indian Drive Pittsburgh, PA 15238

412-968-0268 <vegan@veganoutreach.org>

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